Response to Challenging Times

This has been a deeply troubling week for our Boston Jewish community, and indeed, for our nation: a week that included this summer’s second desecration of our Boston Holocaust Memorial, as well as the anti-semitic, white supremacists on violent display in Charlottesville.

Our response as Jews to challenging times is to affirm the shared values of chesed—loving-kindness, and rodef shalom—pursuing peace. These strengthen and fuel us for the hard work of tikkun olam, healing our broken world. In that spirit, we invite you to join us this Friday night in prayer and song for Simchat Shabbat services at 6:15 pm, followed by a community dessert Oneg Shabbat. Rabbi Danny Burkeman will address the events of the week in his remarks, and we will welcome the children of our community home from summer camp adventures with blessings.

This is a time to celebrate our bonds of faith and friendship, denying power to those who seek to diminish the abiding goodness of our community and country. Shabbat is a sweetness we need, all the more urgently, at this moment in time, let’s enjoy it together.

Below are a few statements and resources from the wider Jewish community:

CJP/JCRC Statement on August 14 Vandalism of New England Holocaust Memorial

We are appalled and saddened that the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized Monday night for the second time in just 6 weeks. The images of Nazis marching in the streets of America over the weekend in Charlottesville and now shattered glass once again at this sacred space in Boston are an affront to our Jewish community and to all those who stand-up against bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism. We thank the Boston Police and the Public Works Department for their rapid response and for their continuing support during this difficult time. We will remain resilient and will have a timeline for rebuilding the memorial once we have assessed the damage. For information about the New England Holocaust Memorial or to make a donation, visit www.nehm.org/donate.

CJP and JCRC Statement on Violence and Bigotry in Charlottesville

We are heartbroken and outraged by the events in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. We join with the many of our member organizations who have already condemned both the violence perpetrated, and the message of racism, anti-semitism and other xenophobic views we heard today.

We are dismayed by the response of the President. This is, as the American Jewish Committee said today, "a time for moral clarity." Condemning "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" blurs the truth and gives a pass to neo-Nazi perpetrators. We join with our national network, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, in calling on President Trump to unequivocally condemn the white nationalist marchers and their movement. We pray that calm will be restored, and that all people of good will can come together in confronting hate and bigotry in all its forms. We mourn the loss of life and we pray for those injured today.

We can and must be better than this.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of The Religious Action Center

Our world is imperfect. As Jews, we know this.

The Torah teaches that God created a world capable of chaos and of order. While this can sometimes create moments of despair, it is also the basis for all hope, all light in the darkness. The violence and hatred witnessed over the weekend in Charlottesville, VA weighs heavily on our minds and in our hearts. As Americans, many of us awoke today feeling ashamed, scared and outraged. It is okay to feel these things. The fight for justice cannot come only from the head; it must come also from the heart.

It is in these moments of darkness that Jewish tradition compels us to be brave, to seek the light. We are, as we read in Zechariah 9:12, asirei hatikvah, prisoners of hope. As I write this, the Reform Movement is working across lines of difference to coordinate an interfaith response to the violence in Charlottesville that calls for constructive solutions to the hatred and vitriol dividing our nation. The clergy and lay leadership of our Urgency of Now campaigns are organizing across North America to expand our network of Reform congregations working together for social justice. The RAC is preparing for the 1,000 Ministers March for Justice, happening in Washington, DC on August 28, where we will march alongside diverse clergy from across the nation to demand that the Department of Justice live up to its name. Our world is imperfect, and so we respond with hope.

Our world is full of darkness, and so we respond with light.

L’Shalom,
Rabbi Danny Burkeman, Cantor Hollis Schachner, President Temple Shir Tikva Matthew Langweber.